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《Quaternary Sciences》 2006-04
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HUMAN ADAPTIVE BEHAVOIRS DURING PLEISTOCENEIN THE THREE GORGES REGION

Pei Shuwen Gao Xing Feng Xingwu Chen Fuyou(Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100044)  
The Three Gorges region is located in the transitional zone between the upper and the middle reaches of the Changjiang River,known as an important area for studying human origins and cultural developments in China.In the past two decades, about 76 Paleolithic sites with artifacts and animal fossils were discovered in the fluvial terraces and caves along the Changjiang River.Since 1995,21 sites have been excavated by a joint archeological team consisting of archaeologists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology(Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the Chongqing Museum of Natural History.A large number of archeological remains and animal fossils have been unearthed,making the Three Gorges region a rich and important area in Paleolithic archaeological research in China as well as East Asia.On the basis of analyzing the geomorphic and environmental evolution as well as scattered characters of the sites,settlement patterns,human occupation behaviors,and technical developments adopted by humans in the Three Gorges region during Pleistocene are proposed by the authors in this paper.The river terrace and caves were well developed and widely distributed in this area,closely related to the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and development of the Changjiang River during Pleistocene,which formed the unique natural environment with hills behind and river in front of the region.Environmental analyses indicated that the Pleistocene environments were dominated by sub-tropical forests except some dry-cool temperate grasslands intervals,indicated by the existence of evergreen-broad-leaf trees,coniferous trees,and mixed forest-prairie vegetations.Development of the Changjiang River and wealth of animals and vegetation resources distributed along the river provided a stable circumstance for human occupation,adaptation and migration.Prevalent pebble-tool industries in the region were suitable for the hunter-gathered adaptation in the unique natural environment.It is concluded that the lithic assemblage consisted of hammers,cores,flakes,chunks,and retouched tools,which was dominated by cores and flakes,mainly in large size.The stone raw materials exploited in the open-air sites of the region were locally available from ancient riverbeds,with the adjoining rock as the raw materials in the cave sites respectively.The retouched tools were dominated by heavy-duty tools,i.e.,choppers,heavy-scrapers,picks,biface,and cleavers.These tools are efficient for working in forest areas.On the contrary,light-duty tools with sharp edges as light-scrapers,nothes,points,were more convenient to be carried and used during hunting or scavenging in the grassland areas.In conclusion,human survived from caves to open-air plains from Early to early Later Pleistocene,with heavy-duty pebble-tool industries as main lithic technologies.At the end of Later Pleistocene,pebble-tool industries were replaced by light-duty flake-tool industries,as small scrapers and polishing tools as well as pottery fragments were abundantly discovered in some sites,which indicate that human adaptation behaviors were transited from hunter-gatherer to farm-animals domestications,and that the occupation strategies were transited from migration to a more fixed fashion.Therefore,from evidence of stone tool industries and settlement patterns,human occupation behaviors in the Three Gorges region have been shown to be formed by adapting to unique natural environment over a long period of time during Pleistocene.The result indicates that there has been a long history of human occupation in the Three Gorges region,and the Changjiang River has been essential for the development of Chinese civilization.It also offers evidence for the study of technique development from Early to Late Pleistocene,as well as the analysis of cultural relationship between North and South China during Pleistocene.
【Fund】: 国家自然科学基金项目(批准号:40472016)资助
【CateGory Index】: K872
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